Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The pear of great price

Dear Fams,

Thanks to all those who sent letters! Receiving lots of news this week was pretty cool, and hearing about all the blessings and happiness that is coming your ways fills me with such joy. Conference was soooooo spiritually uplifting, and I'm gonna strive to do what I usually don't do after conference and that is re-read my notes and try to APPLY the counsels of the Lord's servants. I invite all of you to do the same, and a good idea would be to dedicate your next family home evening talking more about one or more of the conference talks and making plans to apply the teachings in your families.

Well, this week I had an extremely amazing experience that I would like to share with yall! My mission president said once (and this is more or less paraphrasing) that we as members think the mission is the solution to our life's problems. We think that it will constantly be a spiritual blast, and we'll always be feeling great and super spiritual. But we learn on the mission that it is not the solution to our problems, and that it is a lot of tough work. The strong spiritual moments are far and few, separated by gaps of hard work, fatigue, and sometimes discouragement. In those gaps of grime and sweat, we must really make sure that our testimony of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the restored gospel is sufficiently strong enough to help us endure. Welp, I testify that all of that is 100% true. And fortunately, this past week, a gap concluded and I had one of those few strong, spiritual moments. I don't know if yall remember me talking about some investigators here in my area, the Martinez family. We are teaching the mom, Elizabeth, and her son, Diego (10 yrs old). She also has a son named Michael (3 years old). We have been teaching them for about 3 months. During those three months, they hadn't progressed very much. They go to church sometimes, and then don't go to church for about 2 or 3 weeks. We have lessons with them sometimes, and then we don't teach them for a week because the mom is busy. We invite them to church activities on days other than Sundays, and the mom sends her son with us to the activities, but she doesn't ever go. They lacked a sense of commitment, and lacked a testimony, but they had interest and were slowly progressing, so we weren't gonna stop teaching them. Well, before this week, we hadn't taught them for like 2 weeks, and we thought that maybe the mom lost interest and didn't wanna learn more. I was really worried that that had happened. I began to think about them a lot and what we could do to help them. My love for them began to grow as I realized that we might be losing them. We decided one day that we were gonna stop by the house unexpectedly and pay a visit. That morning, I prayed to Heavenly Father, asking for guidance during my studies to know how to help Elizabeth gain a testimony. And the Lord truly helped me and guided my studies.

During the visit, we began to ask her questions about how she has felt since we started teaching her, what blessings she has seen in her life, how she feels when she prays to know if what we teach is true, how she could recognize her responses. And at the end of the lesson, I remembered that I had studied that we must trust in Moroni's promise at the end of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5). And so trusting in that promise, and with a prayer in my heart and with faith, I pleaded that the Lord would help Elizabeth gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We reviewed Moroni's promise with her, and then we knelt down and she offered an extremely heartfelt prayer. During the prayer, her little son Michael started to make noise and flicker the lights, and I got up during the prayer and detained the little scoundrel, and he got quiet. The people next door were also making a lot of noise outside of the house and using bad words. We could hear them during the prayer. But Elizabeth continued on. At the end of the prayer, we were quiet. My companion told me he was tempted to begin talking, but the Spirit told him not to. We looked at Elizabeth and her eyes were red. And we continued to be quiet. The quiet was the great key. I didn't even realize it but the noise outside and the bad words of the neighbors had ceased. I had already let go of little Michael and I don't know where he went, but he definitely wasn't interfering with the quiet. And suddenly, Elizabeth burst into tears. She began to cry for the first time since we had met her. The Spirit had spoken to her heart. And she told us, ''I feel a sense of peace. I feel a sense of peace.'' We helped her to realize that she had received her response. She told us to come back the next day, which was something she had never said. It always seemed like she didn't want us passing by too often, so she had never told us to ''come tomorrow.'' The visits were usually more spaced apart. But she told us to come by the next day. Heavenly Father had answered the prayers of my companion and I, as well as the prayer of Elizabeth. My companion and I continued thinking about the experience for the next 24 hours. I realized as I thought over and over about that powerful experience that it was indeed the first time that I had ever witnessed the prayer of someone being answered, apart from my own prayers. I was able to see that exactly how the Lord has answered my prayers, he had answered the prayer of Elizabeth. The difference in Elizabeth's prayer that day is that she was truly following the invitation of Moroni, praying with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ. It caused me to remember the days when I had prayed in my room at my bedside to know if God really loved me and was aware of me, if Jesus Christ was truly the Savior of the world, if the Book of Mormon was true, if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if the church was true. I had such a deeply profound desire to know. I NEEDED to know. And I had prayed with a sincere heart, with real intent, and with the greatest faith that I was capable of having. Wow, just writing about the experience, I have a lump in my throat and my eyes are starting to water up a little bit. I know so strongly, with all my being, that Heavenly Father answered my prayers. And what an experience it was to see that process again, occurring in the life of another. Because Heavenly Father answered my prayer, I know that He loves me, that He is aware of me, that I am his son, that Jesus Christ is my Savior and my older brother, that His is the only name whereby I can be saved, that the Book of Mormon is true scripture, written by prophets of the ancient Americas, that the humble 14-year old Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, that he was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church of Christ, the same church that Christ had establised on the Earth over 2000 years ago but that was lost after His death and the death of His servants. Like Joseph Smith said, ''I [know] it, and I [know] that God [knows] it, and I [cannot] deny it''.

Loved ones, we are so blessed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. All the good news I have received this week, all the happiness our family is experiencing, all the blessings of the Lord we enjoy is a witness that the Gospel is true. Share it! Show it! Ye are the light and life of the world! The salt of the Earth! Help out the poor lil missionaries please! Like me, perhaps they are not having the sufficient support of the members like they should be having. This message is too great, to miraculous, to sweet and savorous to keep to ourselves! We have the pearl of great price. Will we keep it to ourselves?

Elder Bogdan

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